A historic moment was realized at the Jan. 19 commencement ceremony at Saint Mary’s University and its Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. Not only did more than 200 adult learners graduate, but the school also achieved a major milestone in further making education accessible.

CAPTION: Brother William, president, with Brooke Anderson and Diana-Christine Teodorescu, director of M.A. in Organizational Leadership.

New graduate Brooke Anderson walks back from the stage with her diploma.

Brooke Anderson is all smiles after receiving her diploma on Jan. 19. She’s the first graduate to commence from Saint Mary’s innovative, fully online programs.

Brooke Anderson, Krystle Glad and Andrew Sarata became the first students to graduate from Saint Mary’s fully online programs. They all enrolled in the M.A. in Organizational Leadership program in the summer of 2012 and finished, on track, 18 months later. Anderson was in attendance at the Sunday commencement ceremony, and to program director Diana-Christine Teodorescu, seeing Anderson walk across the stage was extremely exciting because it was a physical representation of more than a year of digital learning.

“It was a really tangible way of experiencing the work that everybody has done to make the online platform that we deliver possible and accessible to students,” Teodorescu said. “These are real students, these are real people. To have someone commence, it brings what we’re doing virtually into clear focus. Students like Brooke are why we do online learning. It’s the culmination of years of hard work on everyone’s part.”

Recognizing Saint Mary’s as an innovator in online graduate education, TheBestSchools.org recently ranked the university a 20 Best Online Master of Organizational Leadership Degree Program. The website, which ranks institutions at all levels and offerings, compliments No. 7-ranked Saint Mary’s on its flexibility, committed faculty and diverse student body.

While the organizational leadership master’s program produced the school’s first three online graduates, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers a variety of graduate programs online, with more being added each year.

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